Mem­o­ries from the Korean War

Veteran Frank Slade rec­ol­lects some of the hor­rors of war

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

ST. AN­THONY, NL – Frank Slade vividly re­mem­bers the lit­tle Korean boy he found, screech­ing in ter­ror.

It was 1952, in the mid­dle of the Korean War where Slade was serv­ing.

The four-year-old or­phan child had been stay­ing in a United Na­tions “com­pound,” sur­rounded by barbed wire. Slade was on guard duty.

The se­cond day he was there, a shell ex­ploded.

“I heard this explosion and I heard this lit­tle boy scream­ing,” he re­called.

When Slade rushed in, the boy was buried up to his waist in sand.

He had lost an eye.

The Canadian sol­dier sped into ac­tion and started dig­ging the boy out with a shovel.

What he found when the boy was dug out ac­cen­tu­ated the night­mare: his legs had been blown off be­neath the knees.

Slade had to act quickly. He cut up his shirt, ty­ing it tightly around the wounded area to pre­vent fur­ther bleed­ing.

He called up an Amer­i­can med­i­cal team, which picked up the child to take him away to the hos­pi­tal.

The boy waved good­bye as he got on the am­bu­lance.

Slade never saw him again.

En­list­ment

St. An­thony’s Frank Slade en­listed in the Korean War in 1952 as a 22-year-old.

His path to that point was some­what un­usual.

Af­ter be­com­ing an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen while he was work­ing with his aunt in the United States, he was drafted to serve in the US mil­i­tary in Korea.

Hold­ing dual ci­ti­zen­ship, he had a choice to ei­ther serve or to head back home to Canada.

Slade opted to re­turn to the Great White North, but it was there that fate in­ter­vened.

At the Horse­shoe Tav­ern in Toronto, an old child­hood friend from St. An­thony hap­pily greeted Slade.

There sat Don­ald Pen­ney, dressed in uni­form.

As the two old friends con­versed over some beers, Slade learned Pen­ney had en­listed in the Royal Canadian Reg­i­ment and had al­ready served three months in the Korean War.

Now, Pen­ney was try­ing to con­vince him to sign up too.

Nev­er­the­less, Slade left the tav­ern that night still un­con­vinced. But he slept on it and the next morn­ing, thought it over some more.

Chang­ing his mind, he de­cided he would stand with his old friend on the bat­tle­fields of Korea.

When Slade ar­rived in that for­eign land, fate in­ter­vened once more, He and Pen­ney were placed in the same com­pany – but their time serv­ing to­gether would end trag­i­cally.

On July 20, 1953, Pen­ney lost his life and Slade barely es­caped with his. July 20

There were three of them to­gether, in­clud­ing the two young St. An­thony friends, in a trench about five feet deep.

Slade was shav­ing out of a lunch can held in his hand when sud­denly, there was an explosion.

An 81-mm rocket from the en­emy struck them.

A piece of metal shell flew to­wards Slade, strik­ing the can in his hand. He was pushed up against the trench by sheer force, in­jur­ing his cer­vi­cal spine in the process.

But he made it out of there alive.

The doc­tor told him it was the sturdy lunch can that saved his life. He still has that can to this very day.

The other man, Reid, was wounded at the hip.

Sadly, Pen­ney wasn’t as for­tu­nate. The explosion killed him in­stantly. He was the last Canadian to be killed in ac­tion in Korea.

The war ended just seven days later.

“If I had known, I’d have to go through that, I would have never went to Korea.”

STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTH­ERN PEN

Frank Slade, 87, served in the Korean War from 1952 to 1953. Over his shoul­der on the wall is a photo of him­self at the age of 22. The pic­ture was taken on a train on the way to Van­cou­ver af­ter Slade en­listed.

STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTH­ERN PEN PHOTO

Frank Slade shows off some of his medals, in­clud­ing one that he re­ceived from the gov­ern­ment of South Korea.

STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTH­ERN PEN

Frank Slade holds the sturdy shav­ing can that saved his life. On July 20, 1953, an 81-mm rocket struck Slade and two other mem­bers of his com­pany, killing his friend Don­ald Pen­ney. Slade was shav­ing at the time, and it was this can that blocked a piece of metal shell fly­ing to­wards him. The shell surely would have killed Slade had it struck him. The dent where the shell struck the can is still vis­i­ble.

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